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== Introduction ==
I had heard the song 'Video Games'; the first single taken from this album although I think Lana Del Rey had released a few more songs by the time I had heard of her. I downloaded her album on the back of 'Video Games' and I played it a couple of times and never thought much of the rest of the album, perhaps I was expecting too much from it. I eventually dug it out again after I broke up with an ex, an American friend had been giving this album lots of praise and I wanted to see if i had missed something the first time around, she is normally quite reliable when it comes to music, so I decided to give it another listen.
== Lana Del Rey ==
Lana Del Rey was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant in New York, 1986. At the age of 18 she was composing her own songs and by the time she was 20 had secured a recording contract for $10,000. A few years later in 2008 she released her first EP titled 'Kill Kill Kill' and in 2010, she released her debut album 'Lana Del Rey A.K.A. Lizzy Grant' which flopped drastically. In 2012 she came back with a name change to Lana Del Rey and released her second album, 'Born To Die', and the plaudits followed. Lana has described her influences as "the masters of each genre", from Elvis to Springsteen, from Eminem to Winehouse, and she has also described herself as a "self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra", so with all that mixed up in one nice little package, we are in for something of a treat with this album.
== Born To Die ==
Born To Die was initially released in January 2012 and contained twelve songs, eventually it was re-marketed as a special edition and a further three songs were added. In November 2012, Lana released an EP entitled 'Paradise', which was marketed with the 'Born To Die' album as 'Born To Die - The Paradise Edition', this turned the initial twelve song album into a twenty four song album if you count the final track, which is an iTunes exclusive bonus track. The album reached number one in twelve countries including the U.K. and the U.S. (It reached number one in the U.S. Billboard Rock Albums and Billboard Alternative Albums Charts, although number two on the Billboard 200). This is the review of the repackaged Paradise Edition of 'Born To Die'.
== Track By Track ==
=== Born To Die ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bag1gUxuU0g ) ===
The album opens with the title track 'Born to Die'. This is a slow tempo number that opens with a dramatic string arrangement before the drum beats kick in and Lana sings this song about a doomed relationship. The vocal on this is quite haunting, Lana sings it in a rather sultry way, almost slurring through the lyric. I quite like this song, and the strings at the beginning give you the feeling that you are about to watch a dramatic movie, although in this case you are about to hear something truly dramatic. The opening part of this song reminds me of the Dave Berry single 'The Crying Game' for some reason. This was Lana's second single release, reaching number 31 in the U.S. Rock Digital Singles Chart, and number 9 in the U.K. Singles Chart.
=== Off To The Races ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6s-x-nz6ow ) ===
This is one of my favorites on the this album, I love the rapping technique that Lana employs on this track. The songs starts off pretty slow and seems somewhat out of tune in parts, although it totally fits in with the theme of the song. The lyrical themes in this song reference the novel 'Lolita' written by Vladimir Nabokov, "Light of my life, fire of my loins" is a direct lift from the book, this seems to be a recurring theme throughout this album too, culminating in the song 'Lolita' towards the end of the album. The chorus has a nice hiccuping little rap, that sounds a bit bubblegum pop to me, I think she was perhaps taking on the role of Lolita for this part of the song (The girl in the novel was 12 years old).
=== Blue Jeans ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRWox-i6aAk ) ===
This is a great love song, lyrically, this is excellent. It's one of those songs that you don't really pay much attention to, until you read the lyrics and see how deep it actually is. This song tells of a love lost, possibly due to the other half getting away to earn more money "But he headed out on Sunday, said he'd come on Monday, I stayed up waitin', anticipatin', and pacin', But he was chasing paper". Out of all the songs on this album, this is the one that tells an actual story, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end, whereas some of the other tracks on here kind of leave it to the listeners interpretation, this one leaves you in no doubt what happened. This was released as the third single from the album and reached number 32 in the U.K. Singles Chart and peaked at number 41 on the U.S. Rock Songs Chart.
=== Video Games ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cE6wxDqdOV0 ) ===
This was the song that first brought Lana Del Rey to my attention, I had a music channel on in the background and I just heard this sultry voice that I had to look round and my eyes were immediately fixed to the T.V. screen. The lyrics talk of being in love with someone despite being ignored. In this slow ballad, Lana uses the other person playing a video game as a metaphor. This song was Lana's first single release and first and only number one single to date, albeit in Germany. This song charted at number 91 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number 9 in the U.K. Singles Chart.
=== Diet Mountain Dew ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddDF_d_FL-k) ===
This is one of the catchier songs on this album, from the first lines of "You're no good for me.." It is another one of those songs that revisits 'Lolita', only this time it is the film, due to the mention of heart-shaped sunglasses. The song seems to be about the love for someone who isn't good for her and he can't love her in the way she wants, but she would like him to try, well that's my interpretation of the song. Overall it isn't a bad song and the catchiness of the lyric does a lot to get you singing along.
=== National Anthem ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7daxzs-EK2A) ===
Although I love this song, the pronunciation of some of the lyrics is cringe worthy, it's like they have been crammed in to fit into the verse, especially the word "ovation" in the final verse. The verses have a haunting beat behind the vocal and the chorus has a cheery vocal, with some cheesy lyrics "Sugar, sugar, how now, take your body down town", but somehow the whole song works and it is definitely one of the highlights of this album. This was the fourth single released from this album, and didn't exactly set the charts on fire, reaching number 92 on the U.K. Singles Chart and number 37 on U.S. Rock Songs Chart, definitely not held in high regard by the single buying public.
=== Dark Paradise (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSz43AHM2EU) ===
After the bubblegum hip hop/pop of the previous track, we enter darker territory with 'Dark Paradise'. The song starts off really slowly and it is the chorus that really carries this song "Every time I close my eyes, It's like a dark paradise, no one compares to you, I'm scared that you won't be waiting on the other side". The lyrics to this seem to mourn the loss of a loved one or perhaps a relationship turned sour, either way it is a great slow ballad.
=== Radio ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vogS4gDDNvQ ) ===
I love this song and the lyrics are open to all sorts of interpretation, in the chorus she sings "And now my life is sweet like cinnamon", anyone who has tried cinnamon will know that it is anything but sweet, it is quite bitter, could this be Lana saying, just because I'm famous it doesn't mean everything is rosy? This is another one of those great sing along songs, that gives you a nice lift when it comes on.
=== Carmen ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRk1yHsDYA8 ) ===
The songs lyrics talk of substance abuse and Lana has said it is a song that is close to her heart and she drew on her own experiences of alcohol abuse at a young age, to write this song. This is another dark song, from the lyrics to the haunting string music. The song starts off really slow before speeding up for the chorus. It isn't the greatest song on this album in my opinion, and doesn't have the commercial appeal of a few of the other tracks on here.
=== Million Dollar Man ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrU8VGJXU68 ) ===
This is a good ballad with a mighty powerful chorus, it uses a line lifted from the Carl Perkins rock n' roll number 'Blue Suede Shoes', although it does sound a bit corny when Lana sings it, it is like she couldn't think of anything original to put in here instead and to me that is the difference between this being a good song and a great song. The lyrics to this song follow a lost love again, similar to a lot of the songs on this album, and it doesn't get boring.
=== Summertime Sadness (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdrL3QxjyVw) ===
This is a mid tempo number and it has that dance music feel to it, so it is easy to see why it was remixed and why it charted so well. I think this song is unlike any of the other songs on this album, the lyrics seem to talk about living for the moment, "Got my bad baby by my heavenly side,I know if I go, I'll die happy tonight". A remixed version of this was released as a single and charted at number 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number 4 in the U.K. Singles Chart, making it Lana's highest entry on either chart.
=== This is What Makes Us Girls (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKGy4CQbJLQ) ===
A nice slice of pop is up next with this song that seems to reminisce about Lana's youth. I think there is a lot of regret in this song, perhaps of putting a loved one first and in turn losing a friendship "This is what makes us girls, we don't stick together 'cause we put our love first". This song is quite good and when I listen to it I can hear Madonna's influence circa 'Like A Prayer' album.
=== Without You ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhuckvSkNgU )===
This is one of those songs where Lana is pleading with a boy to come back to her, she is saying that despite all her fame and fortune, it all means nothing without her man, "They all think I have it all. I'm nothing without you. All my dreams and all the lights mean nothing without you". Overall this is a good song, although I don't think it is anything special and is perhaps why it was originally included as a bonus track on this album.
=== Lolita ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc5bCExt6L0 ) ===
Sticking with the recurring theme of the novel 'Lolita', we have a song with the title and some modern day lyrical references to the story of the promiscuous Lolita. This is another slice of bubblegum pop, with quite a catchy chorus of "Kiss me in the D-A-R-K dark tonight..." and the refrains of "Hey Lolita hey, hey Lolita hey". I like this song, just for its sing along ability.
=== Lucky Ones ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBTp8QnXrt4 ) ===
The song starts off pretty slow and Lana demonstrates great vocal ability shifting her pitch throughout the song. This is one of those powerful ballads, the kind that you would reach for your lighter at a concert and hold it aloft and it is a great way to end the first disc of this two disc special edition. This is a great sing along song and it is one of those tracks that needs to be played at a decent volume.
=== Ride ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py_-3di1yx0 ) ===
This is the first song on the Paradise part of the album, it starts off quite slowly before speeding up for the Fleetwood Mac sounding chorus. I love this song, it just seems to flow along really nicely and this definitely one of those songs that is meant for driving to. This was released as a single and reached number 32 in the U.K. Singles Chart and number 21 in the U.S. Billboard Rock Songs Chart.
=== American ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ve_nxbkTgI ) ===
This song opens with the lines "Play house, put my favorite record on, get down, get your Crystal Method on", pretty cringe worthy lyrics in my opinion and this is quite possibly the worst track on this album. The song name checks two of Lana's idols; Bruce Springsteen and Elvis, but just the mention of those two figures isn't enough to save this song. It is usually the song that I skip on the CD player. This song was released as a single and didn't fare well at all in the U.K. Singles Chart, only managing to reach number 151, it fared slightly better on the Billboard Rock Songs Chart in the U.S., reaching number 29.
=== Cola ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoyza9U7DK4 ) ===
The lyrics in this song are quite controversial, in this song Lana sings "My pussy tastes like Pepsi Cola", which she has said in interviews that "I have a Scottish boyfriend, & that is what he says", I have no idea what nationality has to do with it, I am Scottish and I have never said this to anyone. Despite the controversial lyrics and perhaps because of them, I actually like this song, it's a nice slow slice of pop. The song was due to be released as a single, although I think those plans have been shelved, as there is no release date at the time of writing this review.
=== Body Electric ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4MTjr346zI ) ===
This is a song that references a poem by Walt Whitman, the poem is called 'I Sing The Body Electric', which is also the refrain for this songs chorus. This is where the similarities between this song and the poem end, although she does name check Whitman in the song "Whitman is my daddy". The songs lyrics are a little out there for my liking, I prefer to understand what a song is about and this song seems to throw me off course a bit. In this song Lana name checks a few famous people, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, & Jesus to name but a few. I wouldn't say that I am a big fan of this song, but it isn't one that I would skip, I tolerate it.
=== Blue Velvet ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0gr2abrE64 ) ===
Up next we have a cover version of a classic made famous by Bobby Vinton, although first recorded by Tony Bennett back in 1951. Lana gives this song a new lease of life, she absolutely nails it and makes it her own. Lana had recorded this for the H & M autumn campaign advertisements and it was released as a single and reached number 60 in the U.K. Singles Charts, it only fared slightly better across Europe, with it's highest position being number 40 in the Austrian and French Singles Charts.
=== Gods & Monsters ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0gr2abrE64 ) ===
This song sounds a bit like something Lady Gaga would release, and after listening to the lyrics, it is probably not something you would want your kids to listen to. I think this is Lana reflecting on her own experiences with alcohol addiction to tell this story of someone who has messed up their life. Vocally and lyrically it is just OK for me, in my opinion it isn't a stand out track on this album, it just blends in.
=== Yayo ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XC6g_wHjGss ) ===
This is a song that was written solely by Lana and it appeared on her first EP 'Kill Kill Kill' and also her first album 'Lana Del Rey, A.K.A. Lizzy Grant', it has been re-recorded for this album. I love this song, it has a haunting echo effect on the vocal and is sung against a piano for the first couple of bars, before the drums enter the fray. The songs style is reminiscent of an old jazz number and conjures up images of sitting in a smoke filled basement bar, watching a singer perform this. The vocal is really hard to describe, I have heard nothing like it before or since, it definitely has a uniqueness about it. A lot of reviewers have said that this is Lana's best song, and while I disagree with them slightly, I would still say that it is up there with her best. I think it is unfortunate that this song wasn't released as a single in the U.K. or America, although it did chart at 120 on the French Singles Charts.
=== Bel Air ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_rMyi9GIW0 ) ===
I love this track, the song starts off slowly to a piano before the harmonies and the drum kick in for the chorus "Roses, Bel Air, take me there, I've been waiting to meet you. To me this track is such a peaceful track, and is a very easy song to sit and listen to. This song was released as a single in the U.K. and reached number 184, making it her lowest chart position in the U.K. to date.
=== Burning Desire ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zx_dTSPzXlk ) ===
Lana was chosen to promote the new Jaguar F-Type, she sang this song which includes some driving lyrics, at the Paris Motor Show, "I drive fast, wind in my hair, I push you to the limits, 'cause I just don't care.". This is another slow tempo number with a pounding bass drum in the background that is almost hypnotic. This track is only available if you purchase this album through iTunes and it was also released as a single in the U.K, charting at 172.
== Track Listing ==
*** Disc 1 ***
1 - Born To Die (Del Rey, Parker)
2 - Off To The Races (Del Rey, Larcombe)
3 - Blue Jeans (Del Rey, Haynie, Heath)
4 - Video Games (Del Rey, Parker)
5 - Diet Mountain Dew (Del Rey, Daly)
6 - National Anthem (Del Rey, Parker, The Nexus)
7 - Dark Paradise (Del Rey, Nowels)
8 - Radio (Del Rey, Parker)
9 - Carmen (Del Rey, Parker)
10 - Million Dollar Man (Del Rey, Braide)
11 - Summertime Sadness (Del Rey, Nowels)
12 - This is What Makes Us Girls (Del Rey, Larcombe, Irvin)
13 - Without You (Del Rey, Skarbek)
14 - Lolita (Del Rey, Howe, Robinson)
15 - Lucky Ones (Del Rey, Nowels)
*** Disc 2 ***
1 - Ride (Del Rey, Parker)
2 - American (Del Rey, Nowels, Haynie)
3 - Cola (Del Rey, Nowels)
4 - Body Electric (Del Rey, Nowels)
5 - Blue Velvet (Morris, Wayne)
6 - Gods & Monsters (Del Rey, Larcombe)
7 - Yayo (Del Rey)
8 - Bel Air (Del Rey, Heath)
9 - Burning Desire (Del Rey, Parker)
== Price ==
You can purchase this album on compact disc for £10.04 from www.amazon.co.uk or if you prefer, you can purchase the MP3 version for £6.49 from the amazon downloads store. I purchased this album from iTunes, for £8.99 and this includes the iTunes only bonus track.
== Verdict ==
I think this album is great, it has quite a mixture of songs and styles on it and it did take me a few listens to get into it, but now I can't get enough of it. I initially purchased the original album, but when I heard there was an extended copy out there, I decided to buy that one too, as I wanted to hear more from this songstress. I will stress that due to some of the lyrical content on this album, that this album is definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but if you don't mind a bit of swearing and aren't easily shocked, then this is the album for you. This album got me through a break up, it was played on repeat every day for about a month, I could have probably written the review then and spared the neighbours having to listen to it on repeat for the past few days again. I do think this is an album that you have to have experienced some kind of emotional pain in your life, to appreciate the darkness of the lyrics. I would give this album 4/5, it has a couple of weaker tracks that could have probably been relegated to B-Sides or secondary single tracks. I think She could have made one really excellent album out of all the material on here, it just falls short for my liking.
Born to die was the first album from American singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey, or as she is known to her parents - Lizzy Grant. Lana Del Rey is naturally a soprano, although it is when she sings in a lower than normal range that her sultry voice really stands out. Though I did find I preferred her natural singing voice, particularly in the tracks like 'Born to Die' that showcased her vocal range. I think this may also be a factor in some of the criticism that she receives when singing live. If you're not singing in your natural key, you won't always sound your best.
I loved the song 'Video Games' and I bought this album to listen to during a hospital stay last year. I was hoping for an album of similar tracks, and while I was disappointed on that front, I wasn't disappointed with the album. This album features an eclectic mix of musical styles, ranging from gorgeous romantic ballads such as 'Video Games' to RnB/Hip Hop style tracks such as 'Lolita'. She describes herself as a 'Gangster Nancy Sinatra' and a describes Her musical style as 'Hollywood Sadcore' and these quotes do sum up the sound of this album.
Lyrically, this album is nothing special. There are the recurring themes of love, sex and drugs and while this may be as a way of shocking and appearing hardcore, sometimes the lyrics lessen the potential impact somewhat. Del Rey seems to be the narrator of this album, which tells the story of a rebellious youth, partying and the ups and downs of teenage love affairs. This album has the recurring themes of sex, love and death, with a heady mix of drugs thrown in for good measure. This album is also a very patriotic American album, particularly shown in 'National Anthem'
Del Rey has stated that the three songs Video Games, Blue Jeans and Born to Die are part of a trilogy - that they tell a story of love and loss, although the memories of the affair will live on.
1. "Born to Die"
This is a fantastic start to the album, with the sultry vocals and theatrical accompaniments. This was the second single release from the album. This is one of my favourite tracks, as it really showcases Lana's vocal range. This track also contains a vocal sample of "Long Red" by the band Mountain.
2. "Off to the Races"
Although it is one of my favourites on the album, it does seem to be trying to cram too much into a single song. From a slow, sexy start to the hiccupy chorus seems enough of a jump musically, without the theatrical orchestral ending. I do like the song though, particularly the chorus, and this keeps me listening despite my criticisms. I can imagine it's very difficult to sing live though, with all the key changes and the very fast chorus. This song has a sample from the Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita, with the lyrics "Light of my life, fire of my loins" that appear in the bridge.
3. "Blue Jeans"
Following the previous happy, giddy track, we have an atmospheric slower track. The strings, piano and pleading chorus all combine to leave a haunting ballad, with a bit of hip hop beats thrown in for good measure.
4. "Video Games"
This track is my favourite track on the album. Gorgeously slow and melodic, it is a romantic track with a haunting melody. I must admit that I initially didn't like this track, but it really got under my skin and now I think there is something magical and emotional in this track, and I really think it's one of the best tracks I've heard in a very long time.
5. "Diet Mountain Dew"
Diet Mountain Dew is one of those tracks that I am still unsure whether or not I like it. The chatty rap style of the verses works well, but the chorus is slightly jarring. This is very theatrical in composition in places, but somehow it falls down and the lyrics rather than adding to the theatrical background seems to clash.
6. "National Anthem"
This is one of the few tracks I didn't like. I think this is mainly due to the cringe worthy lyrics and the overpronounciation of some of the lyrics. Interestingly this track was co-written and features the backing vocals of David Sneddon, who was a winner on Fame Academy years ago (I thought this was a joke, but I have checked it out).
7. "Dark Paradise"
This track has the potential to be a melancholic ballad, but it falls down slightly in its arrangement and the lyrics which is a shame. I think the (for want of a better way to describe it) the yodelling and the overemphasising of the I wish I was dead, dead, dead line is what puts me off slightly on this track.
This is a poppy track, with the sweet sounding vocals and harmonies bely the dark lyrics which seems to be Del Rey's way of sticking one finger up at her detractors and the people who only got back in touch with her because she was now famous and her songs were played on the radio.
This song is a cautionary tale to the downisde of fame and addictions that fame can bring. This is apparently influenced by Del Rey's own struggles with alcohol addiction in her teens. The slow, sultry vocals and breathy rapping adds little to the album though, in my opinion. It's one of those filler tracks, although probably only one of 2 or so fillers on the album.
10. "Million Dollar Man"
Million Dollar Man has a nod to the 1920's style glamour in its composition. I want to like this track, but for some reason I don't. This is a very jazz themed track, and is one of those tracks where it does sound as though Del Rey is channelling her inner Nancy Sinatra. The chorus also samples the song Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley.
11. "Summertime Sadness"
This is another favourite of mine, it is a slower track, similar to Video Games, but with an edgier sound. This was remixed by French DJ Cedric Gervais and was a hit earlier in 2013. I prefer the original though, as a lot of the melancholy is lost in the remix. I had thought the lyrics were cringeworthy in places, but I have since realised that the line is sizzling like a snare, and not a snail as I first thought - oops.
12. "This Is What Makes Us Girls"
This is what makes us girls is one of the poppier tracks on the album, although the melancholic lyrics could have had more of an impact on one of the more moodier sounds of the album. This song is about getting sent away to boarding school at the age of 15, and the effects it had on Del Rey. It also shows how 'girls' don't stick together and but put 'love first'.
13. "Without You"
This is one of those tracks that just cracks with emotion. It's slow, building up to a pleading chorus. It's not as theatrical as some of the other tracks, and I do like this about it, the lyrics and Del Rey's voice are the stars of this track.
This is an edgier RnB/rap sound, although with some soul thrown in. This was initially one of my favourite tracks on the album, if you ignored the slightly cringeworthy lyrics in places, but I have grown slightly bored of this track.
15. "Lucky Ones"
This track starts very slowly with only a vocal introduction expands into a slow ballad with a gorgeous chorus. I feel this is a fantastic ending to a great album.
I do love this album on the whole. There are a few weak tracks, but the fantastic ones more than make up for them. It's very over the top and theatrical in places, but somehow it works. I can't comment on the validity of the songs, as few people know the truth, and even if the lyrics are just some twisted fantasy, it doesn't detract from the fact this is well worth a listen.
The version of the album that I have is the Paradise Edition, with 3 extra tracks, as well as the original 12 tracks on the album.
This is available on Amazon for £9.00 for the CD version or £6.49 as an mp3 download
The original version is £4.99 on CD £5.49 for the mp3 download
(Prices are correct at time of writing this review).
I first heard of Lana del Rey towards the end of last year, when I first saw the video for Video Games. It was such a haunting melody which hooked me in immediately, and I fell in love with Lana's voice - although, admittedly, the massive lips freaked me out slightly!
I wasn't sure I would like her other music though - if possibly she was just a one hit wonder who would release an album where every other song paled significantly in comparison to her debut single. So, although I was intrigued by her, I wasn't sure if I wanted to buy the album. I gave in three weeks ago though and downloaded the mp3 album via amazon. I plugged it in my ears while on overtime a couple of weeks ago and loved it on first listen. This is actually fairly unusual for me, as it usually takes me a couple of listens to have an album grow on me, but not this one - I took to it straight away!
There are a lot of great tracks on this album - Video Games is definitely one of the best, but there are a few which give it a run for its money. My favourite is probably "Off To The Races", a somewhat schizophrenic track which jumps between a distinctly country style of music and a chorus which is strangely reminiscent of Katy Perry's track "ET" in a lot of ways. Even del Rey's voice changes drastically between the parts and, as someone pointed out online somewhere, it must be a really difficult chorus to sing as there is barely any time for the singer to actually take a breath due to the structure of the tune!
"Blue Jeans", the new single from the album, is an atmospheric melody slightly reminiscent of "Video Games"in style although it doesn't quite pack the same punch as its predecessor. That being said, it is an excellent track and stands out from normal ballads in the same way the Shakespear's Sister-esque title track "Born to Die" does.
It is actually incredible to me how few fillers are on this album - there are so many great tracks and lots of good picks as possible singles. "National Anthem" is another fabulous song which, rather uniquely, involves almost a rap turn from Miss del Rey. Sounds a bit odd, but once again it works and is an absurdly catchy tune. I'm sure I actually read somewhere that David Sneddon (remember the first winner of Fame Academy?) had a hand in writing the track which is actually pretty ironic given that it is a distinctly all-American song which Sneddon, obviously, isn't. "Diet Mountain Dew" is also a really great song, which somehow makes me think of summer. Catchy "Radio" has an upbeat sweet sound which belies the bitterness of the lyrics - this could very well be a attack on anyone who has criticised Lana since she hit the big time.
Sometimes del Rey's tracks actually sound uncannily like other artists - for example "Million Dollar Man" sounds like one of Lady GaGa's rare ballads. Or "Summertime Sadness" could have been written - and sung - by Florence and the Machine.
Overall though, I think that Lana has managed to release an album that obviously is influenced by many other artists, but remains very distinctly her own. This is partly due to her unique voicals, but also due to the style of the songs. Although her miusic encapsulates many music genres, the album as a whole does achieve a very cohesive feel. And although the majority of the songs are slow to mid-tempo, they somehow manages to retain a uniqueness which makes them more than your average boring ballad. (Yes, we all know how I feel about ballads generally.) If you liked Video Games, you will more than likely enjoy this album. I know for sure it's one I'm going to be playing for years to come and I can't wait to see what else Lana del Rey has up her sleeve for future albums!
(Review originally published on Ciao in April 2012 under my ciao username pmshack99)
A couple of months ago I was asked to write a biography on Lana Del Rey as a cover story for one of the magazines I write for in Poland. I didn't know anything about her so before I gave my answer I Googled her and looked her up on You Tube. The song that I first heard wasn't Video Games, the song that struck a nerve for most people, it was Summertime Madness. From the moment I saw her face, I thought, who the hell is this? I loved her face and her voice, it reminded me of tumbling reeds warbling in the summer wind. The chorus of Summertime Madness sent shivers down my spine and made the hairs on my arms stand up and still does, every time I hear it. I accepted the article and carried out lots of research which included listening to her music. My husband bought me the Born to Die CD last month and this is what I want to review today.
It's very difficult for me to nail her influences. The star herself has listed lots of influences. Springsteen is one of them, this pleases me, Kurt Cobain is another, this also pleases me but there are many more like Elvis, Dylan, Cohen, Britney and Eminem. I think you can see from her music that she draws upon different genres and I am not sure what genre I would place this album in - Pop, Indie pop, alternative hip-hop, maybe.
There has been a lot of hype about the star throughout her career and the girl from Lake Placid has taken a lot of knocks. She has come a long way since she aired her song, Video Games on You Tube, acquiring over 20 million hits over a five month period.
The co-writer of Video Games is Justin Parker, an English composer, who has written five of the songs on the Born to Die album. The album was released in January 2012 making the number one slot in the UK album charts. Is the whole thing surrounding the girl with the dead eyes just a load of hype? Can she sing? Can she write songs or is she a fake? Let's have a look at the album...
There are 12 main tracks on the album plus 2 bonus tracks.
The titular track is quite a shocker, another song that makes me go cold and definitely disturbs me. I don't know what it is whether it's the breathy voice, splashy drums or the over the top string arrangement. Her voice is very strange in this song, she's melancholy and it's like she's trying to change something, crying out for something but doesn't want to quite let go, there's a bit of her inside that wants to accept what is going to happen. If you catch the video to this song on You Tube sometime, it is haunting. This is a good song for creating an atmosphere filled with sex, drugs and glamour.
Moving on to the second track, Off to the Races. This takes a bit of listening to, I didn't like it at first but after a few plays I now have the hang of it. She has her "Lolita" head on and she's "in the hood". It's very disjointed and if it wasn't for the sampled drum beat holding it together it would be all over the place. In the beginning her vocal line has a thick drawl and she sounds weary but then in the chorus she has this childlike voice and sounds more optimistic. It's an interesting number and I like the jerky rhythms but I would say it is one of my least favourites. I've highlighted it because it is so intriguing.
Blue Jeans is a wonderful song, I love the haunting strings at the beginning, and how they draw you into the song. The echoing vocals in the background and that twangy guitar sound that emulates the playing of Californian guitarist, Chris Isaak really gets me going, I adore the sound. Lana's voice is dreamy, taunting and she haunts me like Kate Bush used to years ago when she was doing her wailing while looking for Heathcliff on the Yorkshire Moors.
And here comes Video Games, the song that made our Lana famous, the song that introduced everyone to her captivating voice. Her voice and the video probably sold the song but if you breakdown the song it is really beautiful. It starts with bells ringing and from this moment my mind is somewhere nostalgic looking for a time passed by, and then comes strong, vibrant piano chords and the harp being played so delicately, all this builds up into a crescendo and then wham - my heart is broken and there are tears on my pillow. Here she is nostalgic for an America that was, again touching on the American Dream theme. This is a powerful piece of music for such a young lady. It blows me away every time.
Diet Mountain Dew isn't one of my favourites - the instrumental hip-hop mix is all over the place and the vocals are close to unintelligible. The verse loses its way through the song and the chorus line, "Your no good for me, baby your no good for me, but baby I want you, I want you, I want you, drones on. Nice twinkling piano and if the song had been arranged better it might work but not in this state. A highlight because a promising song and unusual in the mix.
Naional Anthem is a confusing one - begins with a sweet voice singing Happy Birthday to the President and then a whole lot of manic sounds followed by tranquillity and then she quits being the American girl and becomes America itself as she delivers her slogan, "money is the reason we exist" spoken in a very mundane voice. She is very appealing as she takes on all these different vocal changes, one minute she is conceited, then breathy, then ecstatic and finally quite a little vamp. The sounds are interesting and some excellent strings that reminded me of the Verve.
The last of my best picks, I have already mentioned, Summertime Madness. This is a great pop song with dark undertones. It is so very haunting, her voice takes you to a place where you shouldn't be and you can feel yourself losing control and the madness creeping in and taking over. I think this is my favourite, sends me weird every time I hear it.
Some of the tracks like Dark Paradise with its intriguing opening is dark and mysterious, I expect Depp and Burton to be out there but then the song turns into a crescending chorus line with crashing, clapping keyboards that sound like shutters closing. It's too hectic and a bit too similar to all the other songs. This needs a bit of work on as does Carmen and Radio. The potential is there.
As for Million Dollar Man, I really don't know what to make of it. I can see the Nancy Sinatra influence. The song is a good ballad but her delivery on this one is a bit dubious - she sounds as if she is heavily medicated.
Without You, a bonus track, good ballad and would be a lovely song if her vocals could be articulated more. I can actually see the Springsteen influence here for the first time fused with a high pitch Kate Bush vocal style. I love the melody; it's one of those that make you want to sway from side to side.
Lolita, another bonus track, I don't mind - it's a quirky little number that reminds me of very early B52s. I think the spelling out of the word, D A R K, continuously would probably annoy most folks.
So there you have it. The girl who has changed her name from Lizzy to Lana and couldn't decide whether to call herself Del Rei or Del Rey, has been called a confidence trickster and there is a mob out there who believe that her rise to fame was calculated all along and that she was never a struggling artist. She has been criticised for making a mess of interview shows, having plastic surgery and collagen injected into her lips. I say, give the girl a break. She is like a breath of fresh air. I love her crooning vocals that don't always reach the high notes; I love the twangy guitar, string arrangements, hip hop and Indie flourishes and up front stomping drum sound.
I adore her videos that are outlandish and melancholy. It's good to see the repetitive glimpses of America we see in Del Rey's film footage that are heavy on nostalgia, overcast with doom and gloom, showing spontaneous outtakes which have in fact been planned and staged beforehand. She is very much influenced by Philip - Lorca diCorcia, a photographer from Conneticut who is the master at creating similar images.
This is great album, well presented and very interesting. It isn't all perfect but it is only her second studio album. Her voice and the sounds blow me away and that's something seeing that I am pretty narrow minded these days only focusing on one person in particular who happens to play guitar and was Born to Run.
I know the critics have got her down as a has been but she'll be back and around for a long time. She is only young and has a lot to offer. This little seductress may not come back as Lana but she'll return and her next album will be better and more polished.
The CD is on sale on Amazon for £5.
This review will cover the original 'Born to Die' album by Lana Del Rey, released last year amid a storm of blog hype and Saturday Night Live controversy that unfortunately overshadowed Lana the artist. With dozens of supposedly professional reviews unable to get past her perhaps surgically enhanced lips and wealthy background, the album itself was lost. I'm here writing a review because it was probably my favourite of the year, and here's why...
Lana Del Rey was indeed born Elizabeth Grant, but I'm not sure why a name change attracted so many taunts of 'inauthentic phony' when I'm sure Freddie Mercury, Ziggy Stardust and Lady Gaga didn't get the same treatment (heck, even Katy Perry is really Katherine Hudson...). 'Born to Die' is her debut album and my word is it accomplished. A single concept and consistent sound runs through the entire record making it a cohesive whole that will appeal to anyone who heard the first single, 'Video Games'. That song was a rare thing - a haunting indie ballad with majestic vocals that fitted perfectly with the description of Lana as a 'gangster Nancy Sinatra' (even if Nancy was probably more gangster herself...). What about the rest?
1. Born to Die
The album begins with sweeping cinematic strings that descend into a slow percussion, with distorted background vocals creating an eerie mood. This mood continues through the entire song that sets up the theme of the album nicely - love, essentially, but the more destructive kind, with a little of the American dream thrown in for good measure. The vocals on the verses are familiar and Nancy-esque, but it's the chorus where she shines in a breathy angelic tone. 10/10 for this one, a perfect opener although possibly a little melodramatic for some people's tastes.
2. Off to the Races
A personal highlight of the album for me, a bit more uptempo and with some of the 'hip-hop' influence that Lana cites in her interviews. On first listen it's a tad bonkers and all over the place, with high pitched rap-singing, trip hop beats and a breakneck speed chorus with Lolita vocals (and lyrics that suggest an unhealthy Lolita style relationship), but it is continually rewarding over repeated listens and the string outro is one of the most beautiful moments on the whole album. Avoid if you don't like squeaky little girl voices. 9/10.
3. Blue Jeans
Not a favourite of mine but seemingly a fan favourite, and a moderately successful single, the Americana sound is strong here, with twanging Wild West style guitars and the recurring motif I like to call 'man shouting in the background' makes an appearance again. 6/10.
4. Video Games
Well you will probably know this one, and my word this song is a little bit special. From the beautiful opening strings (is it a harp? I never could identify instruments well...) to the incredibly simple but beautifully sung melody, everything about this song is STUNNING. I have however, also seen it described as a dreary load of nothing, which just goes to show how divisive Lana can be. 10/10 from me though, for one of the best mainstream songs of the last few years.
5. Diet Mountain Dew
More uptempo again and 'hip-hop/trip-hop', this one is somewhat forgettable in the context of the album, it lacks that sweeping, cinematic feel the other tracks have and can feel somewhat repetitive by the end, but as a standalone it's a fine song. 6/10.
6. National Anthem
Here we come to the best song on the album. Yes, better than Video Games! It opens with 4th of July fireworks and then becomes an almost sleazy sounding, part rapped/part sung ode to money and success. The darker vibe really works and the flow of the verses is superb, with some of my favourite lyrics on the album, such as...
'I'm your national anthem, boy put your hands up, give me a standing ovation. Boy you have landed baby in the land of sweetness and danger, Queen of Saigon'.
7. Dark Paradise
Sonically one of the more 'dreary' songs on the album, but it fits well within the overall concept and as such feels important to the album. The lyrics are rather heartbreaking on inspection, with Lana worrying that her (presumably dead) former lover will not be 'waiting on the other side'. 7/10
A little more uplifiting after the hard-going Dark Paradise, this has a sweet and airy chorus and fits within the style of the album so far. This is the one main criticism of this album, that themes, sounds and even lyrical motifs are repeated throughout, making it rather repetitive for some. I personally appreciated the attempt at making an album with a clear concept and sound, and certainly over 12 tracks I don't think it gets too grating. 8/10
Lyrically there is some variety here, with the story of 'Carmen' who appears to be a tragic heroine of sorts. Again, the track is ambitious sonically, and has a cinematic feel. This was one of my least favourites at first but has proved to be a real grower. 8/10
10. Million Dollar Man
This one almost sounds like a Lana attempt at a Bond Theme. If I were to cut any song from the album this would be it. It isn't unpleasant but it borders on the 'drearier' side of the album, and it offers nothing that other tracks don't do better. 5/10.
11. Summertime Sadness
Another highlight, with the Wild West guitars of Blue Jeans reappearing in a very introspective and damaged sounding trip hop ballad. 9/10.
12. This is What Makes Us Girls
Bit of a change up to close the album, this song seems to be talking about Lana's time growing up and her female friends (and their possibly dysfunctional relationships) with a less 'heavy' feel than the rest of the album, making it a pleasant but unspectacular album closer. 7/10
While I like the lyrics, I know some people are annoyed by her recurring 'motifs' and fairly limited subject matter, and certainly, most of the songs on here are about the same damn thing. There is however enough variety for it to not get tedious, at least for me. The lyrics are mostly simple yet effective, with lots of imagery.
Mostly ballads on offer here, so if you like your music peppy and uptempo this will NOT be your cup of tea. Lots of focus on strings and heavy percussion in particular, the overall mood is again, cinematic, and very american.
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
Yes, certainly. I think this is a hugely accomplished and polished debut, with a clear vision, good songwriting and beautiful vocals from Lana, who is a hugely versatile singer.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE
I first noticed Lana Del Rey when I saw 'Video Games' on the music channels. I was intrigued by the drunken actress on it because I thought it was whoever was singing it, and I thought they may be a celebrity in America, sort of like a Paris Hilton. I also really loved the song, but I forgot all about it. Then Kanye West tweeted pictures of her 'Born to Die' music video. I checked it out and from then onwards I have been a massive Lana Del Rey fan. I downloaded her album straight away and then downloaded her first mixtape, followed by any other unrealesed track that had leaked on the internet. I am honestly besotted with 'Born to Die'. Some may argue thats its too morbid, where in places it is quite depressive, must if you listen to the lyrics proparly you will realise all in all it is a piece of art.
WHAT I LOVE
I love how I never get sick of the songs - ever! According to my itunes I have listened to 'Blue Jeans' 97 times. Her voice is captivating and unique. I love the phrases she uses e.g. 'Diamond blue baby New York City, never was there ever a girl so pretty' and 'lieing to herself because her liquors top shelf'. They are phases no other artists would come up with. This album is not like any album before, and personally I think it will be one of the albums that speaks for our generation. I love how you can listen to this whatever mood or place - even falling asleep to it.
WHAT I DON'T LOVE SO MUCH
Its very produced compared to her music before, but thats about it.
Lana unravels a lot of mystery in this album, and I can't wait for her next one.
Would i recommend it to a friend? I already have, and we are going to see her at the Manchester Apollo next year!
Any questions you want to ask me about my views on this product, feel free to message me:)
I first encountered Lana Del Rey when I heard the title track of her album being played on radio. I had not heard such a unique voice in a very long time and the style of her music was also curious and new. After the song was finished playing the DJ commented that he could not stand listening to Lana's voice. I've since read many reviews of Lana's music which have been less than complimentary and it seems like you either really really love her or really, really hate her - and I mean not just her vocals or her musical style but her entire presentation of herself as an artist.
'Born to Die' is the debut album by Lana Del Rey and it was released in early 2012. It was released to much hype and even before it was released Lana was big news. I feel that part of the backlash against her might be to do with the extraordinary amount of expectation involved in regards to her musical imput in culture. There is also a huge deal made from the fact that Lana is a 'plastic' artist with a new name and a new face, masquerading as a poor wannabe when in fact she might have had a rich daddy. To me, and I'm sure all of Lana's fans, her carefully manufactured identity is simply the perfect comment on today's society and the ideologies that fashion our existences. I'm pretty sure Lana knows this too. What's really important though is her music and I have to say that 'Born To Die' is my favourite album in a long time.
The title track of the album is perhaps the most commercial of all of the tracks and it has a slightly different feel to the rest of the album. It's dramatic and all reaching. It showcases Lana's voice at it's most deep and drawling delivery. At some points she seems to be drunk whilst delivering the lines. The orchestral background mixed with Moby-esque electronics is an unsual blend. The lyrics have an apocolyptic, self-drestructive theme which are fascinating and seem perfectly fitted to the youth of today.
'Off To The Races' has a strange 1960's delicacy and urban hip-hop blend. Lana's voice is very expressive here and she sounds as though she is revelling in ecstasy during her delivery. The chorus has a dark soul which is chilling but sweet.
'Blue Jeans' is a sleepy, intoxicating song that makes me feel like I'm living in a David Lynch movie. Lots of romance and sexuality in this track.
'Video Games' is a slow paced song that feels quite dreamy and heaven-sent. The music is touched by the honey sweetness of harps and gentle drums. The lyrics are intelligent and emotional.
'Diet Mountain Dew' is a catchy, unforgettable track. The lyrics reveal a sense of a gritty, youthful lifestyle that is familiar to a certain class and sector of society. I find myself singing the chorus frequently!
'National Anthem' - this is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It's musical structure is similar to 'Born to Die' but it's slightly more upbeat with an Ayn Rand attitude to capital being exploited or at least explored in the lyrics. There is a lot of depth, intelligence and daring involced in addressing themes such as politics, economy and race. Great track and the official video digs even deeper - check out her ghetto version of the US presidency.
'Dark Paradise' is another great track which has a bewitching power to seduce and hypnotise. The dark, sultry voice combined with poetic lyrics is a perfect combination.
'Radio' blends a chilling verse with a funky, fashionable chorus. The persona of the song, a successful singer, is both arrogant and thankful for her position in life. There is some explicit lyrics but they fit well and feel appropriate to the urban colours of the music.
'Carmen' weaves a tragic story about a character called Carmen who feels like a jaded old star or a washed up drug addled young starlet. It's a sad and eerie song.
'Million Dollar Man' makes me feel like I'm sinking into a whirlpool of music and dreams. It has an old fashioned feel (think Porgy and Bess) with dangerous, modern lyrics. Lana sings this like a crazy, tipsy lover.
'Summertime Sadness' is a beautiful song that feels like it has captured the soul of a summer's evening. The lyrics paint a rich picture whilst the delivery is honest and expressive. The song feels more commercial than some of the other tracks on the album.
'This is What Makes Us Girls' has great lyrics which revel in rebellion. The lyrics refer to a kind of gang mentality and youthful freedom which is exciting and nostalgic. This track feels like it has shades of Justin Timberlake in the musical composition.
There isn't one track I dislike on the album and it's constantly playing on my ipod. I recommend the deluxe album which features three more tracks which are just as good as any on the original album version. I particularly like 'Lucky Ones'. Lana Del Rey is the artist of 2012 in my opinion. Her music and her vocals don't sound like anyone else around right now and that's so refreshing. She's a true artist.
On the 30th of January 2012, 25 year old Lana Del Rey released her second album. Her first album was released in 2010, but wasn't such a hit. She took some time to change her look and to work on her music, and two years later has released 'Born to Die'.
Her first single from the album was released in October 2011, and is called 'Video Games'. With this track she captured the nation with her slow, breathy, melancholy voice that left many eagerly awaiting her album. When the album was finally released, it reached number 1 in various countries, and helped Lana win her first BRIT award as 'Best International Newcomer'.
Since the album was brought out 'Born to Die' and 'Blue Jeans' have been released as singles, and have also been successful.
In summary, the album features songs about the usual sex, drugs and rock and roll. The lyrics are nothing too new, but Lana's breathy voice and melancholy tone is individual and is what makes the album different.
Track One: BORN TO DIE. This track was released separately, earlier this year, and reached the top ten in the British charts. This track is slow but flows nicely throughout. It's one of the longer tracks on the album at 4 minutes and 44 seconds. The song has lyrical themes of love and dying, which may seem rather melancholy, but the music keeps it interesting and catchy to listen to.
Track Two: OFF TO THE RACES: This song is faster moving than the previous one, and is a little more upbeat. The lyrics have a rather provocative love theme, but overall the song is very lively and bouncy.
Track Three: BLUE JEANS: This track's lyrics are hard to follow, but the song flows nicely, and you get to hear Lana's beautiful range throughout the track. This song has also been released as a single this year, with a video for the track as well.
Track Four: VIDEO GAMES: This was the debut track; first released from the album back in October 2011. The song flows nicely and the lyrics are catchy, resulting in this being one of my favourite songs on the album.
Track Five: DIET MOUNTAIN DEW: The way this song is sung makes Lana's voice sound very whiney, and the lyrics drone on a little. This is one of my least favourite tracks on the album, it's still listenable, but sometimes can become annoying.
Track Six: NATIONAL ANTHEM: This track is very catchy and one of the more upbeat songs on the album. The lyrics are bizarre, but it's what makes the song stand out so much I think.
Track seven: DARK PARADISE: The song is one of the slower tracks on the album. But, I'm not sure whether it's the speed, the lyrics or Lana's voice that make this track almost depressing, certainly not a favourite of mine!
Track Eight: RADIO: This is another of the slower tracks on the album; it's quite catchy and likeable though.
Track Nine: CARMEN: This song can easily be overlooked, and doesn't stand out as much as any of the other songs on the album. It's a slow track, with flowing lyrics, but is really quite boring.
Track Ten: MILLION DOLLAR MAN: This is a more poppy track on the album, has a much fresher feel to it. These lyrics aren't really anything new, but the song is nice to listen to.
Track Eleven: SUMMERTIME SADNESS: This track is also more of a pop song, with very lively lyrics. I think this track is interesting to listen to, and you can hear Lana's wonderful voice more in this track.
Track Twelve: THIS IS WHAT MAKES US GIRLS: The last track on the album is catchy and upbeat; it's a rather fun track and ends the album nicely.
In conclusion: Although the lyrics are rather repetitive at points, and some tracks don't do Lana's voice justice, overall this album features numerous good tracks. Some tracks are easily forgettable and some even sound whiney, some of the better tracks like 'Video Games' bring the album up, and Lana's unique voice is what makes the album different.
Although this album has quite a few good pop songs on it, I would say it's more of a deep and melancholy album, with a few more upbeat tunes on it.
I would recommend the album to anyone who likes the chatty kind of music that this album features, but you really have to listen to all the tracks to come to your own decision about whether you like the album or not.
I give this album a 3/5 as some of the tracks really are wonderful, but some of the less catchy songs bring the album down.
This album is available on iTunes, or in major CD or music stores. There are two versions of the album available; the normal edition, or the deluxe edition, which features three extra tracks.
Thank you for reading. This review was also posted on Ciao! under the username of Georgia713
Lana Del Rey is a very new artist that made her way onto the scene in late 2011 (well before that but only became known in 2011). I think for me Lana Del Rey is a very great artist and she has her own distinct sound and look. Her music comes in the genre of Indie Pop/Alternative which are two genres that I really enjoy and have become my favourite over that past couple of months. Born To Die is her album that was released in January 2012.
I think Born To Die was an excellent start to her career because in each and every song she put her soul into it an her vocals are definitely something to love. Her songs have a very smooth quality and they are very calming to listen to. Probably for some people her songs may come across as depressing but for me I like the calmness of her songs because I'm a person that likes think and her album is full of songs that put me in a relaxing mood.
---------Top 3 Most Recommended--------
----Dark Paradise would be my number on favourite song on this album. I think the song is very soothing and has a really catchy/memorable chorus. This song is about losing a loved one and she captures the the sort of emotions you would feel in this situation extremely well. I like the instrumental because it has a soft tension building feel to it and every time the chorus comes the instrumental sounds as if it's at it peak then slows back down when it's over and so on through out the song.
I think the song itself is slightly dark and a little edgy.
----National Anthem would be my second favourite song from the album because I think this is the one song that she opens up a little and sings a lively song(for her anyway). The interpretation of this song is whatever you make of it because it can come across in different ways to different people. I personally think she is talking about being in love or having a fling with someone of higher authority like the president or a politician that has money and power. The song is definitely my sort of summer time song. When I listen to it I can always imagine being in a hot place relaxing by the beach.
----Million Dollar Man is definitely my third favourite song from this album its a lovely song. The main reason why I like this song is because she sounds really beautiful and show her great vocal talent. This song is about meeting someone that is just the best person ever and you feel great with them but at the same time you just can't be together for whatever reason it is. My favourite line is the song comes at the end of the chorus and it goes "You look like a million man, so why is my heart broke". This song was always makes me think when I listen to it.
1. Born To Die
2. Off To The Races
3. Blue Jeans
4. Video Games
5. Diet Mountain Dew
6. National Anthem
7. Dark Paradise
10. Million Dollar Man
11. Summertime Sadness
12. This Is What Makes Us Girls
Special edition (bonus tracks)
13. Without You
15. Lucky Ones
Born To Die, Video Games and Blue Jeans are the singles that have been released so far from the album and I think of the three Blue Jeans would be my favourite.
I like all of the songs on this album and they serve there different purpose. I have to admit that her songs do all have a similar feel to them that's why you probably hear alot of people saying her songs all sound the same. I think this is the reason what makes her good is because she stays true to what she is about. I think if you sit and listen to the songs on this album you will definitely find something you like because it's all about the lyrics with her and making her songs meaningful.
The digital copy of the album is available on iTunes for £7.99. The CD copy of the album is available on Amazon for £5.99.
Overall I think this is a great album and I hope she has many more like this to come. I must say this is definitely not for everyone but if you like this type of thought provoking music the it defiantly is for you.
This beautiful woman has a beautiful voice and this is a beautiful album.
1. Born To Die
2. Off To The Races
3. Blue Jeans
4. Video Games
5. Diet Mountain Dew
6. National Anthem
7. Dark Paradise
10. Million Dollar Man
11. Summertime Sadness
12. This Is What Makes Us Girls
Each song is special in its own way. Lana Del Rey has a voice like velvet, it's so clean and it is also very refreshing to see a young, beautiful singer who does not feel the need to play vocal gymnastics. Born to Die and Video Games are her most well known songs are have graced many a radio station and are very popular. Blue Jeans completes Del Rey's trio of most important songs (in her own words) and with a new video out now, it could grow to be just as popular as her previous singles. Some criticism I have heard of the singer is that her songs are too depressed/sad. I disagree. I think songs such as Carmen are haunting rather than depressing; they spark thought and tell a story. That's my favourite thing about Lana Del Rey, her lyrics. They are always well thought out, very clever. And with regards to her songs being too sad, I think songs like National Anthem show off the singer's more playful/bubbly side, because from what I have seen of her interviews, she is very bubbly and smiley :)
I bought this album after falling in love with Born To Die and Video Games.
Unfortunately I only like the singles as the rest of the album is boring.
The songs are all very samey and after around twenty minutes you tire of hearing her voice as she hasn't got the vocal range of Mariah Carey, unfortunately. The album mainly focuses on love and heartache and the songs are pretty much all the same. They sound the same and she sings them in the same dreary tone. There's no diversity here, no variety whatsoever, and after the album has finished you feel like slitting your wrists - it really is THAT depressing. The album is far from "feel good", very far indeed.
The album seems like it goes on forever and I had to skip a few of the tracks as they were clearly fillers, clearly there to "pad" the rest of the album out. Lana HAS got talent. The songs are actually very well written but she needed to add some variety to the album so that listeners won't get bored, like I did. She should have produced this album differently as it just isn't up to the standard of other female vocalists such as Adele and Mariah.
If I had to describe the style of this album I would class it as Pop/ Folk.
BORING, unless you like that sort of music...
Lana Del Rey appeared out of nowhere at the tail end of 2011, with her sleeper-hit 'Video Games' - slowly but surely bringing the public to consciousness of the sultry charm of this New York native. Describing herself as a 'gangster Nancy Sinatra', Lana's silky vocals undulating over deep, reverberating beats are hard to place into a genre - but somehow manage to cater to all tastes. 'Born to Die' is her ode to her rebellious youth - filled with copious amounts of partying and the melodrama of young love - and succeeds in having each song tell a powerful story. The hype surrounding Del Rey meant that inevitably, there was a reaction against her as an artist, with some critics labelling her 'manufactured' and 'hollow'. Yet for me, Lana Del Rey is one of the few artists who live up to their hype. 'Born to Die' is in my opinion, one of the finest albums of the past few years - with both the lyrics and melodies - echoing long after the songs have stopped playing.
The opening track, 'Born to Die' is without a doubt one of my favourite songs of the past five years. The song speaks of a dark and dangerous love, where the protagonist knows that the relationship will not last, but as with life, one must embrace it and enjoy for however long it lasts. "Don't make me sad, don't make cry/Sometimes love is not enough, and the road gets tough, I don't know why" Lana muses emotively over the chorus. The production on the track is grand and magnificent, rich in different sounds and texture. The song sounds phenomenal on high-quality headphones where one can hear every nuance of the song's sonic composition. Addictive in melody, and dramatic in lyrical content - 'Born to Die' is my idea of the perfect song.
The song is meant to form part of a trilogy along with 'Video Games' and 'Blue Jeans'. The former is a languishing, sleepy ballad which forms an ode to a boyfriend with a melody that slowly claws into your head, and demands to be listened to over and over. The latter definitely conforms to the notion that Lana is a gangster Nancy Sinatra, as a reverberating steel guitar punctuates a wistful ballad about a man who leaves his lover in search of money, when all the protagonist wants is to be with him. The breezy melody of the chorus alongside the staccato verses creates an interestingly structured song, and a gorgeous piece of music.
Lana is often mislabelled as a balladeer, whereas in reality, she has several up-tempo tracks on the album. 'National Anthem' is my clear favourite on the CD, as dramatic violins and explosive percussion characterise the dramatic sing-along track. With quirky spoken word verses ("Money is the reason we exist, everybody knows it, it's a fact - kiss, kiss"), the song has a stomping, addictive chorus as Lana repeats hypnotically "Tell I'm your national anthem". This patriotic imagery is a theme throughout the album, with the breezy 'Radio', a cheerful yet surprisingly restrained tribute to perseverance. "American dream came true somehow, I thought I'd chase it until I was dead", Lana whispers. As with almost the entire album, the hook is impeccable, and gets into your head just after one listen. 'Off to the Races' is perhaps the most hip-hop influenced track on the set, as the pulsating production reverberates loudly, complimenting the dark subject matter as Lana sings of her lover's "cocaine heart". Her versatility lies in her ability to create both rousing hip-hop infused anthems, and gentle love-ballads - this contrast never makes the album feel disjointed, but in fact, adds to its strength.
The album has a slight dip in quality with 'Carmen' and 'Million Dollar Man' - neither track quite measures up to the superb precedence established by earlier songs. The latter is a meandering, sleepy mid-tempo that is far from memorable. While, 'Carmen' is the only moment in the album when it feels slightly over-produced. Thankfully, however, two mediocre tracks amongst twelve is hardly a deal-breaker.
The albums finest moments come later, with the sublime 'Summertime Sadness'. The song tells a powerful love story with vivid imagery ("Done my hair up real big, beauty-queen-style/High-heels off, I'm feeling alive"). There is something about Lana's storytelling and lyrics which almost place her at a different point in time, as if she is a relic from the 1960s. The stuttering production and the hypnotic chorus of "Kiss me hard before you go, S-S-Summertime sadness" draws you in again and again. 'This is What Makes Us Girls', similarly, seems to be a journey through Lana's youth and is told so precisely, that you can picture it in your head. The song is beautiful, warning that girls "don't stick together, because they put love first." The song has a fast beat, which keeps the momentum of the album going - although admittedly feels out of place as the final track on the CD.
There is a deluxe edition of the album out, containing three additional songs - 'Without You', 'Lolita' and 'Lucky Ones'. Two out of the three, are two of my favourite Lana songs of all time - so needless to say, this is absolutely worth the extra few pounds on the purchase.
'Born to Die' is without a doubt one of my favourite debut albums of all time. The lyrics are so relatable, the melodies are mesmerising and Lana's voice is rich in emotion and character. Few artists have the ability to paint such a clear vision of their artistry so early on. Lana Del Rey seems almost other-worldly in both appearance and musical output, but in that, lies her charm. She is unlike any other singer out at the moment and her album is a sheer joy to listen to from start to finish.
Stand-Out Tracks: Born to Die, Blue Jeans, This is What Makes Us Girls, Summertime Sadness, National Anthem, Radio
Lana Del Ray has been a name on everyone's lips over the last year, with Video Games being such a big hit and her winning the International Breakthrough Award at the 2012 Brits. A lot of people have recently been criticising Lana Del Ray for being "fake". Personally I don't think that is fair. Many celebrated popular music artists throughout the years have created different public personas, such as Madonna, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and recently pop stars such as Lady Gaga. I would call this creativity rather than being fake. Surely music would be boring if it was only ever a completely true reflection of the singer with no licence to embelish anything.
Lana Del Rays invented persona allows her to add themes, imagery and recurring nostalgic American references into her album such as repeated references to "Coney Island queen" and "American dream". She uses some clever plays on words such as "take me like a vitamin". Her songs don't all have as much emotion of Video Games and some such as Off To The Races are quite stylised and slick. I find her intriguing and appealing.
Born To Die is a strong album with some variety in style. It has some very catchy, poppy moments particularly in the song National Anthem which is definitely an album highlight for me. "Red, white, blue is in the sky, summer's in the air and baby Heaven's in your eyes". As a commenter on Lana's last.fm wall wrote, "I hate the part when it stops"! However, the album does contain more sad pop along the lines of the well known Born To Die and Video Games. Summertime Sadness is a gem as well as the album's closing song This Is What Makes Us Girls.
I would encourage anyone to listen to this album and make their own mind up before they listen to the haters. Lana Del Ray has a great voice and this album is original, interesting and unlike anything else out there at the moment.
A lot has been written about Lana Del Rey, and the reality is somewhere between her ardent fans and her rather harsh detractors.
It's easy to see why she's been hard to warm to for some, with her highly polished and rather manufactured look, image and sound. There's also the matter of her lyrics, riddled with cliches, with clanging examples such as "heaven is a place on Earth", and "I will love you till the end of time". But there also something quite fascinating things about this album. It's a juxtaposition of ice-queen vocals and sweeping majesty, merging emotional balladeering, and hip electro-indie, with a twinge of country and a subtle hint of R&B. It's an artificial, carefully-crafted album, hard to truly love, but with a melancholic, emotional core it's hard to be totally unmoved by.
It's far from perfect - singles 'Video Games' and 'Born To Die' do stick out as highlights, and If you like your music soulful and punchy this isn't an album for you, and some may find the rather samey tone dreary. But if you want an album bleak yet romantic, sexy but cold, then you could do much worse than this.
After falling in love with 'Video Games' and Lana's melancholic, enchanting voice I awaited her new album with baited breath. Born to Die is the second album from the American singer-songwriter and was released on the 27th January 2011. If I was going to sum up the album I would describe it as slow eclectic mix of breathy vocals about sex, love and rock and roll. Her most famous track and the first one released off the album early last year, 'video games' was a huge hit and it's grainy, homemade video instantly got tongues wagging about the upcoming album. Overall I am quite dissapointed with the music. There are a couple of great tracks on the album but it just seems that she is trying too hard to be different and quirky with her depressing pop style. It is nothing new and most of the songs I need to fast forward because the lyrics make me cringe! I give the album 3 out of 5 stars as her captivating soulful voice is mesmerizing it's a shame the lyrics she is singing are tired, jaded and slightly irritating.
Track 1 - Born to Die ."Feet don't fail me now, Take me to the finish line, All my heart, it breaks every step that I take..." This track starts really well but it just doesn't finish well for me. It starts really melancholic and deep but it seems to get quite boring and it does not hold my attention as well as other tracks on the album.
Track 2 - going to the races. "Because I'm crazy, baby I need you to come here and save me I'm your little scarlet, starlet Singing in the garden, Kiss me on my open mouth Ready for you" Lana del Rey is really going for the chatty delivery with lyrics that are quite provocative. I'm not sure if she is talking about her dad or her lover in this song and find it a tad disturbing. It's a bubbly little number but it is not one of my favourites.
Track 3 - Blue Jeans. "I will love you till the end of time/ I would wait a million years." This track starts off with an indie pop feel. There is a snippet from a guy reading from a religious text and you are led to believe the song is more poignant than it really is. It is a nice song though, thoroughly meaningless but pleasant to listen to.
Track 4 - Video Games, "They tell me that you like the bad girls honey, is this true?" This song was rightly a big hit. It is really beautiful and the range of her voice really makes the hairs on the back of my neck tingle. The lyrics are well thought out and the song just feels and sounds good.
Track 5 - Diet Mountain Dew, "You're no good for me Baby you're no good for me You're no good for me But baby I want you, I want you Diet mountain dew." This is another chatty, poppy girly song that I can not bear to listen to!
Track 6 - National Anthem. "I'm your national anthem. God, you're so handsome. Take me to the Hamptons." Obviously these are ridiculous lyrics and the whole song has a ironic feel to it. It is very poppy and it does not flow as well as the other songs. Her voice through still manages to add life to tired sounding lyrics.
Track 7 - Dark Paradise. "And there's no remedy for memory, your face is like a melody" This song is my least favourite on the album as it has some really annoying droning backing singers that sound very depressing. I have to fast forward this track.
Track 8 Radio. "Not even they can stop me now Boy, I'll be flying overhead." This is a really beautiful track with foul language. I'm not a big fan of swearing and do not think there is much need for it but I do like this song. It's slow and melancholic with a nice beat behind it and a catchy chorus.
Track 9 Carmen. "The boys, the girls, they all like carmen She gives them butterflies, but too coconize She laughs like god, her mind's like a diamond ..." This is a very slow song that has grown on me recently. I still find it a boring though and it just doesn't stand out at all.
Track 10 - Million dollar man. "You said I was the most exotic flower Holding me close in our final hour ..." More cheesy lyrics but the song has a nice steady beat to it and is easy to listen to. Probably not a very memorable track and features a lot of cheesy lyrics. It has a good steady pop beat to it though.
Track 11 - Summer time sadness. "Kiss me hard before you go. Summertime sadness. I just wanted you to know. That baby you're the best" A beautiful track but as you get towards the back of the album you start hear a repetition in her lyrics, again she sings about wearing a red dress. I like this track through. It is slow and deep and catchy. It is a good indie pop song and I will imagine she will end up releasing this as a single in the future. However it just does not have the fire of 'Video Games.'
Track 12- This is what makes us girls. "Remember how we used to party up all night Sneaking out and looking for a taste of real life." The album ends on a high and I really like this track. It is catchy and fun with plenty of sparkle but lacks any real depth.
This is an easy to forget album and a big disappointment. Would I recommend it? I probably wouldn't actually. I would recommend a couple of the single tracks but on the whole I think it is a poor effort that lacks real emotion. Video Games really won me over and I was genuinely quite disappointed with the rest of the album.